Oh my gosh what a week!!! Not only has my life given me the 180 turn for the better, but so many things happened in the space of just 7 days that it was so much to take in. Nobody can prepare you for such a radical yet positive change. One of my reoccuring first thoughts was that you find yourself thinking how did you ever live your life without your little one.
So as I’d mentioned in my previous post, we were in hospital until Saturday lunch time and were then given the ok to go home. It was so strange now being outdoors with her already, when she was only a day and a half old. I felt like she needed to be protected from everything and everyone as she was just so fragile and tiny. João walked with her in the car seat from our room to the uber and I was walking slowly behind him. I just kept telling him to slow down and to be careful, to always look around but to also look at her. And funnily enough I still do this now 6 months on. I found myself with this instant need of protection over her. I know that for many mothers it is something that comes so naturally and I was lucky to also feel that. It was strange because at the same time it didn’t feel so much like a ‘new feeling’ it was like it was there already. I think being the eldest of five children probably has something to do with it, I’ve probably deep down always had that natural instinct. It was a very very hot day, and we got our uber driver to drive home through Richmond Park, so our little fig could get some cleanish fresh air on the ride home.
When we got home, everyone was too excited of course and wanted to hold her straight away. But I did need to ensure I had full control over everyone. Living with your parents and siblings can be quite overwhelming, especially in my family where as we are all so close, we tend to be very much involved in each other’s personal lives too. But luckily my parents and siblings didn’t overstep their mark too much and let us be new parents without imposing during Maria João’s first week.
We couldn’t believe this tiny human was the new addition to our family. Being the eldest of five and the fact that I babysat a lot of children during my teens made me quite comfortable around children and babies. But a newborn is on another level and it’s your child, your little one to love and look after. João, on the other hand, has never really had a lot of contact with children. So I was always quite scared in the beginning each time he would hold her and I’d make sure I was close to him to help him. To my surprise that feeling and need to always be coaching him disappeared quite quickly. He seemed to be a natural with our daughter. He was so careful each time he would pick her up and thankfully took his nappy duty very seriously. The thing he loved most was having her fall asleep on his chest. He would lay on the bed, and she would mold into his chest perfectly and dose off to sleep. He always says how much he misses those days because it is impossible to keep her still when on his chest six months on.
Everyone always says that mummy should nap when baby is napping and I really tried to do that but I also wanted to be awake and interacting with people and not solely become this robot that worked on a timer every three hours. But after a few days I realised how important it really was to nap when baby is napping, especially taking the opportunity that you have others around to help you with anything if needed.
My body had shown itself already that it had gone into a major shut down after giving birth. On the day I left the hospital I had a serious level of cold sores from my nose to my top lip. I had never had it this bad before. It was so sore and made me feel really shitty about myself. The worst thing about it is that I couldn’t kiss my newborn baby for a week! Can you imagine that?! Having something so precious that is with you 24/7 and the only affection I could show her was with warm snuggles with my face turned the other way. It killed me not being able to rub my nose on her pretty face and smooch her with kisses. I avoided at all costs even having photos taken of me where you could see my full face because it just made me feel like crap. So yeah, everyone has great photos with my little one in her first week and I pretty much have a few where it’s just half of my face and I’m looking the other way.
The midwife came to see us when she was three days old, to weigh her and do the heel prick test. It was her first needle interaction where I would be holding her as when she got the vitamin K in hospital she wasn’t in my arms for that. Nobody tells you how hard it is to see your baby getting a needle put in them even though in this case it’s just a tiny prick. Maria João didn’t make a sound, but I had full on tears dripping down my face. I was so scared for her and then when I saw that she didn’t even react to it, I was so proud of her, which made me cry even more.
I had experienced something I was dreading not to during motherhood and whilst breastfeeding. Mastitis. It really is quite a horrible thing to go through. What you read on google is true. My breasts were extremely engorged which led to me feel very cold and shiverish. I had to ask João to cover me with blankets even though it was about 26 degrees because I was just so cold. It also led to getting a fever and having all of this at the same time was just too stressful to deal with. I didn’t have a breast pump yet and begged João to run out and buy one. It was something I had on my to buy list but didn’t want to get it until I knew I would be able to breastfeed. He rushed out to get one and as soon as he was back I sterilised it and pumped out as much milk as possible. I had also taken a paracetamol to help with the fever and placed warm cloths over my breasts because they were so sore. I didn’t think I would ever get it as I was breastfeeding on a regular basis, but it can still happen ladies.
Our first walk with our little fig was when she was five days old. We went into Richmond to take her passport photo, which is hilarious because she has her eyes closed and her face pulled back so all you see is a sleeping baby with all her chins on show. We then went for lunch at a pub, and it was so exciting to have her out and about with us. We took it slowly and were not out the house for too long and the pub was also quite empty as it was a weekday. I breastfed her at the pub, which was my first time feeding in public, but I will go into more detail of that in another post.
We felt like everything was going well. She was sleeping every 3 hours, pooping on the clock and when she was awake she would never really cry. My mum kept saying how lucky we were to have a such a peaceful baby. But of course we all spoke too soon. Within her first week we had experienced our first sleepless night where she would just not sleep and was crying non-stop. We didn’t know what to do anymore, I had fed her, we had both cradled her, sang to her, had white noise playing but nothing was working. My dad was still awake and asked if he could help. He took her into the living room and sang to her while he cradled her. After about 30m he placed her in her bassinet and she was sound asleep. We were trying so hard not to burst out laughing as my dad placed her in because we were exhausted and then just scared she would wake up again. And unfortunately it didn’t last long, she was awake again about 40m later. We soon realised that this is really what life as new parents is like.
Maria João’s umbilical cord stump fell off when she was six days old. It was quite scary when it happened because I first thought it was too soon to happen and then got worried as it was quite gooey and wondered if it was normal. I called the midwife either way and after describing it they said it sounded like it looked normal. Cleaning that part is so difficult! Making sure it doesn’t get infected was another new experience of having a newborn.
We gave our baby girl her first bath when she was exactly one week old. It started off great with her peeing all over João. We were so careful and split the bathing between the two of us so that we could both experience it. We had my mum filming and taking photos of her first bath so yes it was pretty hectic but thankfully went well. She seemed to enjoy the water quite a bit.
One thing that happens when you have a newborn apart from the overwhelming texts and phone calls are, of course, the visits from your friends and family. We really wanted to limit the number of people visiting our newborn baby especially in her first week. We already lived with so many people, and a newborn is just so fragile that we didn’t want her being exposed too much. So we told only our four best friends to come and they came on two separate dates which worked out well. It was so nice to see and be with other people. It was lovely to see those who are closest to you happy to be holding your baby in their arms. They also spoilt her too much with too many gifts! One thing I always made everyone and still do to this day is wash their hands very well before holding my baby. No germs please, thank you!
I couldn’t let my cold sore, or my new routine of lack of sleep get to me as we were moving into our new flat on the 1st of September. I was so grateful that João was at home with us for 10 days. It may not have been a lot, but it felt like the best 10 days ever. Having him with me to experience this together really meant a lot to me. So it definitely made it hard when he went back to work.
So anyway moving day came about and I was so happy with our new place. It is modern and has amazing natural lighting, and I just couldn’t wait to begin living our new life in our own home. But of course it was all too good to be true. Our new flat was actually not ready and to add to it the lift was not working either; our flat is on the fourth floor. So I really was quite upset that we were not able to move in straight away and had to wait two extra days. When we eventually did move in, my amazing brother and sister helped João take everything up eight flights of stairs. I was worried that Maria João would notice the different ambience and not settle well in her new surroundings, but luckily she did.
Our new life as a family of three in our new home had officially begun and I couldn’t have been happier.
Sleep when baby is sleeping! Even if it’s just every three hours, you will feel a lot better.
To avoid mastitis make sure to rest as much as you can and drink lots of water.
If you have family or friends that live with you or near you, use them! Getting help whilst you adjust to your new life is something to take advantage of. I personally am extremely grateful to have had my family there in that first week so I didn’t have to worry about cooking or cleaning. Of course I was back on all duties as soon as I moved into my own place but if you can get help don’t say no!
Keep visitors to a limit and only have over who you really don’t mind ‘intruding’ into your new life.